Ustream demonstrated clearly this weekend why its free model is practically useless for livestreaming conferences or other events.
I participated in the live Twitter event that occurs each week called #satchat. This weekend they were broadcasting live through Ustream from New Milford High School's Edscape event. Basically, right in the middle of the broadcast, I was subjected to repeated, (I counted 5 times), interruptions of the same video of a Romney campaign advertisement. I certainly understand the need for ads. The organizers of #satchat were most likely using the basic Ustream access, which I understand is ad-based. The obtrusiveness of the political ads during the broadcast made watching the session impossible.
It is one thing to break away for a commercial like conventional television programming does, but it is a entirely different experience to be watching a conversation and suddenly, a loud, boisterous campaign ad appears, completely obliterating the conference session you were watching. Even one time would perhaps be excusable, but five times meant for miserable viewing.
I do not disparage those who put on #satchat each week. It is always an engaging and thought-provoking experience. I also do not think any less of Edscape, which is becoming one of the "must-go-to conferences" in the country.
In practical terms though, I my experience with Ustream means that should I want to broadcast an event through livestreaming, I would be better served by using either a service with less obtrusive advertising, or use one of the paid versions of the product. It is definitely a miserable experience to use a product that broadcasts a video feed, then suddenly viewers are subjected to a political ad with a volume at least 100 decibels higher than the conference session. Choosing the right product for your conference session is highly important obviously. Otherwise, like I was forced to do in this instance, your viewers are going to tune out.